A bestseller in France and winner of Japan's Kiyama Shohei Literary Award, The Guest Cat , by the acclaimed poet Takashi Hiraide, is a subtly moving and exceptionally beautiful novel about the transient nature of life and idiosyncratic but deeply felt ways of living.Read more...
A bestseller in France and winner of Japan's Kiyama Shohei Literary Award, The Guest Cat, by the acclaimed poet Takashi Hiraide, is a subtly moving and exceptionally beautiful novel about the transient nature of life and idiosyncratic but deeply felt ways of living. A couple in their thirties live in a small rented cottage in a quiet part of Tokyo; they work at home, freelance copy-editing; they no longer have very much to say to one another. But one day a cat invites itself into their small kitchen. It leaves, but the next day comes again, and then again and again. Soon they are buying treats for the cat and enjoying talks about the animal and all its little ways. Life suddenly seems to have more promise for the husband and wife -- the days have more light and color. The novel brims with new small joys and many moments of staggering poetic beauty, but then something happens....
As Kenzaburo Oe has remarked, Takashi Hiraide's work "really shines." His poetry, which is remarkably cross-hatched with beauty, has been acclaimed here for "its seemingly endless string of shape-shifting objects and experiences, whose splintering effect is enacted via a unique combination of speed and minutiae."
Publishers Weekly® Reviews
- Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
- Review Date: 2013-12-02
- Reviewer: Staff
A husband and wife explore their marriage and life together through the portentous appearance of Chibi, a neighborhood cat, in Hiraide’s newly translated short novel that has claimed prestigious awards and bestseller status in Japan and France. The couple (who go unnamed) live in a small house together without children, both working from home as freelance copyeditors, and have forgotten how to speak to one another. As Chibi comes into the picture, the husband finally begins writing his book, and the couple bonds again in mutual appreciation of the animal, though neither of them particularly like cats. This is a short and subtle story, but remarkable in the number of layers packed into the gorgeous and textured, lolling rhythm of its prose: “After watching her tiny figure leap past the mirror stand and slip through the gap in the hanging strips of cloth onto the pile of cushions in the upper shelf of the closet, I would leave her undisturbed for a while.” The novel takes a nice metafictional turn midway through, as the reader slowly begins to understand that the book the husband is writing is the book he’s narrating. This is a beautiful, ornate read, brimming with philosophical observation, humor and intelligence, leaving the reader anticipating more translated works of Hiraide. (Jan.)